My path to becoming a kids’ yoga teacher was extremely unexpected. As a 200-hour RYT, I’ve taught hundreds of classes to adults of all ages and experiences levels, but not once did I see myself getting involved with teaching yoga to kids. To be completely honest, the thought alone was intimidating! However, when an chance to teach a series of kids’ yoga classes was presented to me, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to learn as much as I could about something that would take me completely out of my comfort zone.
The once wavering outlook I had on teaching yoga to kids was completely corrected the moment I started my children’s yoga training. It became abundantly clear that a child’s class is unique in that it has it’s own rhythm, completely different from a “regular” yoga class. There’s a constant undertone of learning valuable life lessons mixed in with a never-ending supply of silliness, laughter, games, songs, relaxation techniques, stories and exercises of the imagination happening throughout class that makes the experience enjoyable for everyone involved. However, no matter how prepared and well-trained you are, the truth is teaching yoga to kids is absolutely unpredictable! As we all know, experience can be one of life’s greatest teachers and I have found through experience that teaching a great kids’ yoga class strikes a balance between applying what I’ve learned through the children’s yoga training with a few fundamental principles of my own that I call the three “P’s”: Practice, Prepare, Patience.
1) Practice what you preach: If you’re teaching yoga to kids, why not practice yoga yourself?! It’s no secret that yoga does the body, mind and soul good no matter what age you are, so maintaining your own yoga practice will certainly add value to what you are teaching. There are no set rules as what style, how often, or even when or where you should practice yoga; regardless of what your yoga practice looks like you will reap the same benefits as the kids in your class do, so, everybody wins!
2) You can never be too prepared: While my kids’ training program give us everything we need to succeed, we still need to put it all together and execute the classes on our own. Make sure your bag of tricks AND your yoga teacher tote (or whatever you keep all of your class materials in) is always stocked and you have backups for your backups. Remember, there is always a chance that you’ll run into something completely unpredictable so prepare for the expected and unexpected. Have confidence knowing you have everything you need to run a fun yoga class no matter what!
3) Patience is a virtue: Let’s face it- trying to teach a room full of rowdy kids how to sit still and meditate can be much easier said than done. The inevitable conga line of kids wanting a water break, snack break, bathroom break, a chance to roll themselves up in their yoga mat or run around the room is distracting to say the very least. The trick to dealing with all of these distractions is lead by example through an iron clad exhibit of patience. Is your patience being tested a little too much?! Well, who says you can’t stop everything to OM in for a Peace Begins With Me meditation mid-class? Chances are the kids will follow your example and feed off of your commanding and calm energy. Either way, don’t lose your cool, just breathe and be patient and everything else will fall into place.
The beauty of being able to teach yoga to kids is we get to be a positive influence instilling some wonderful and valuable life lessons in the midst of acting like crazy monkeys or dancing along doing the Yoga Slide. The next time you’re ready to teach a class, give the three P’s a chance and maybe even take a moment to jot down your own go-to methods for leading an outstanding class. As our the kids’ yoga movement grows, I know we’ll continue to work together find the best ways to teach the most amazing kids’ yoga classes to ensure that the whole world is filled with peace and joy, love and light, and lots of peaceful children!